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When did marijuana become the new alcohol?

The High Stakes of Driving High

Bernard Laumon of the French National Institute for Transport and Safety Research reports that individuals driving under the influence of cannabis face a greater risk of being involved in a fatal crash, with the likelihood of being responsible for the accident increasing with the dose of cannabis inhaled.

This is rocket science, this is. Where’s that Nobel Prize, anybody?

Did we really need another study about the effects of substance use on one’s ability to drive, crash, and kill? If you’ve studied one substance’s effect, you’ve studied them all. What sets this study apart from the others is that this one studied the effects of marijuana on drivers, not so much the driven. Marijuana. This is not a drug I would think anyone would do and then desire a walk further than the refrigerator, much less fancy a drive at speeds capable of killing. My own weedy days long gone, I can still (somewhat hazily) recall the things I did and felt. I don’t recall ever getting an overwhelming desire to drive, assuming I’d have ever found my keys. I didn’t smoke marijuana like I smoked cigarettes. It was never a do-n-drive or drive-n-go prospect. A little something at the end of the day was a way to relax, not a way to get going and certainly not a way to keep going. What kind of weed aficionados are these that ride off into the sunset — and into other cars? Is McDonald’s really that far away that they would have achieved the speed necessary to do more than go bump in the night? Improper prior planning, dude. If you’re going to spend that kind of money on something you could go to jail for if caught, at least use it properly for cryin’ out loud. Things must’ve changed in the last few years. I would’ve guessed this type of driver would’ve fallen asleep at the wheel before ever leaving the driveway. What kind of pot is this that keeps a person awake? Check your stash. It’s supposed to be green, not white — or a liquid.

“Drivers found at fault, and also not at fault, who were both under the influence of cannabis were also both at an increased risk for being in a fatal crash. Why drivers not at fault would also be at an elevated risk as well is unclear. The increased fatality risk of drivers not at fault under the influence of cannabis or alcohol is a phenomenon that deserves further investigation.”

Oh Bernard, are you kidding? Investigate away, but surely you already know what you’re looking for, yes? At least try a doobie before writing these excruciatingly sober interpretations of the data. A high/drunk passenger whose driver wrecks is probably being driven by someone under the influence of something; at least that’s what your statistics say and this could easily be substantiated by a few choice interviews (assuming you can sit still through 20-minute fits of laughter and/or vomiting). The two people in question, having been so well suited for judging each other’s sobriety, decided upon one person to be the driver vs the other person driving vs staying the hell home.

“The research team analyzed data on 6,766 drivers who had been found at fault for the crash. The crashes involved immediate deaths, including pedestrian fatalities that occurred from October 2001 to September 2003.”

The finding of “immediate death” can easily be attributed to the “oh, to hell with it” attitude many a marijuana smoker gets with use. Drunks more likely pass out from the insta-swim of collision. I’m still surprised the high guys even left the house so it’s easy enough to conclude that, in a potentially fatal accident, a pot user would get a little sleepy. They probably don’t die right away as much as give up on what they don’t recognize as the will to live in favor of a quick nap. They just don’t wake up. No doubt it’s a very interesting experience for the dead guy who wakes up on the other side of his existence.

Once an under-the-influence driver loses control of his/her car, all bets are off. A drunk/high driver is, for all intent and purposes, driving a drunk/high car. Imagine a 2,000 pound linebacker running your way, tripping, and falling on you while you’re walking down the street. It’s not going to be pretty. If you’re also drunk/high it’s a good bet you stood there and watched him come at you, amazed. Both marijuana and alcohol slow down reaction times, thus a not-at-fault-but-under-the-influence driver will not have the wherewithal to make the same attempt at getting the hell out of the way as a sober driver. It’s a sure thing those under the influence don’t wear their seatbelts as often as sober people and may even be at risk of their body not reacting as it would if it were sober. What happens to a drunk/high person who doesn’t go into shock when a sober person with the same injuries would?

More important than pinpointing the damage caused by drivers who use is figuring out why users use in the first place and curing that ill. There’s your investigation, Bernard. That would be a Nobel Prize in the bag.

About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.

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